By now, many of us have seen images of partygoers and travelers hitting the beaches of Miami and Tulum (among other destinations) for some fun and the sun while enjoying spring break — and they’re not the only ones. Many families have also hit the open roads to visit popular vacation spots such as South Carolina, Florida and Arizona to escape at-home learning and remote work. But as COVID-19 continues to spread across the nation, many are wondering, is it safe to travel for spring break?
The best way to pose this question to oneself is “how risky is it for me to travel at this time?” says board certified family medicine physician, Dr. Abisola Olulade. “There are higher and lower levels of risk and many factors need to be considered.”
The first she states is that the CDC is still recommending against all non-essential travel. “This is because we are still in the middle of a pandemic,” says Dr. Olulade. “Optimism about the vaccine and coronavirus fatigue have led people to start to travel because it is human nature to want a return to normal, but things are not normal. The one thing that isn’t tired is the virus. And it is actually getting better at spreading and possibly causing more severe illness with variants. Only 15% of people have been fully vaccinated and we are nowhere near herd immunity. There are also surges of COVID in several countries and you can look here to find which destinations the CDC recommends against all travel to versus essential travel only based on how high case counts are surging.”
While spring break travel is very tempting, travelers should consider the dangers of traveling while COVID-19 is still spreading, especially with only 15% of the U.S. population fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Until herd immunity levels are reached, locations with high rates of community spread will put families at a high risk of being exposed to COVID-19. “We must heed this warning,” says Dr. Olulade. We cannot let our guard down just yet. Here in the U.S. cases are rising in many states and in some others plateauing instead if declining.”
For those still wanting to take the risk, Dr. Olulade outlines a few health and safety guidelines, though still recommending against non-essential travel.
Get vaccinated if you can before travel and wait at least 2 weeks after you have been vaccinated.
Get tested with a viral test 1 to 3 days prior to your trip and the CDC is still recommending staying home and self-quarantine for 7 days after travel.
If you live with someone who is at increased risk of getting severely ill from COVID or if you yourself have increased risk, then don’t travel.
Avoid crowds or large social gatherings or crowded public transportation in the 14 days prior because it can take up to 14 days to show symptoms of COVID.
Wear a mask and bring extra masks in case one gets lost or wet.
Wash hands, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Keep at least 6 feet of distance at all times from those that aren’t traveling with you.
If you test positive for COVID or have possible symptoms do not travel this is too high risk.
Note, the CDC has not changed guidance even for people that have been vaccinated. At this time there isn’t conclusive evidence on whether people can still spread infection to others after they get the vaccine and.